June 3 Stand for the Land Rally in Lansing. (Photo courtesy Cynthia Pryor)
By Cynthia Pryor
LANSING -- A Stand for the Land Rally was attended by over 150 participants on the Lansing State Capitol steps early Thursday afternoon, June 3. Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community along with members and Tribal Council members of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians from Manistee attended -- presenting Tribal Council resolution and support of KBIC and the peaceful action at Eagle Rock. Drum, flute, and song were part of the full three-hour rally.*
Michigan singer songwriters such as Drew Nelson, Daisy May, Rachael Davis, Josh Davis and many others brought new works to the rally to support the event. Speakers included Brian Matrious, Lee Sprague, Cynthia Pryor, Charlotte Loonsfoot, Chelsea Smith and Georgenia Earring -- who covered topics such as Tribal Treaty Rights, Environmental Justice Principles, Sacred Sites and the experiences at Eagle Rock, as protesters encamped there for a month before being driven off the state land where two were arrested for trespassing.
The group then walked to the Governor's office and presented the Environmental Justice petition of over 1000 signatures before attending the DNRE (Department of Natural Resources and Environment) Natural Resources Commission en masse, where many gave public comment.
Charlotte Loonsfoot, who was arrested last week for trespassing at Eagle Rock, stated: "All our helpers were there and I feel we were heard. I am just very proud that the Little River Band passed a resolution approving support of Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and their legal efforts to stop the Kennecott mine at Eagle Rock. I pray all tribes will pass the same resolution."
*Visit standfortheland.com to see a video clip of the Rally including statements by Cynthia Pryor and Lee Sprague and Drew Nelson's song "Eagle Rock."
Editor's Notes: Keweenaw Now spoke with State Representative Mike Lahti (D-Hancock) Thursday, June 3, and learned he was not in Lansing but on Mackinac Island along with other invited representatives and political candidates, attending a conference for business and political leaders with Governor Granholm and enjoying a beautiful view of the lake from the Governor's summer residence, which is owned by the State of Michigan.** Rep. Lahti stated he continues to have faith in the DNRE to enforce Michigan's rules for hard rock mining in the case of Kennecott-Rio Tinto. His 110th District includes Big Bay, Baraga County, part of Marquette County and all of Houghton, Keweenaw, Gogebic, Ontonagon and Iron counties as well.*** Rep. Lahti confirmed he still plans to run for the State Senate seat now held by Mike Prusi.
** Read about the annual Detroit Regional Chamber policy conference on Mackinac Island.
*** See map of the 110th District.
Read an excellent article that includes many important events in the development of the Eagle Mine Project on the Yellow dog Plains near Big Bay and the citizens' movement opposing it. The author, Kari Lyderson, is a Chicago-based, free lance reporter who has spent time in the area researching this issue. (Click on "Minefield" under Earth Island Journal.)
Update: See State News: "Protesters rally against U.P. mine."